How to Install Linux? You’re believing in Linux is a replacement operating system, but there’s a problem: you don’t know how to install it. Switching to Linux can be straightforward.
Select a Linux operating system (OS), write the installation media, and sit back and wait. But while simple, it does arrive with some complications. Here, we look at how to set Linux on your PC with the minimum of fuss.
What You Need for Installing Linux
To install Linux on a system or laptop, you will need:
- A sensible target device (the PC or laptop) – note that installing Linux is destructive to existing data on your computer, so a clean system is recommended
- A downloaded Linux ISO file
- Installation media (writable CD/DVD, or USB flash device)
That’s all there is to it. However, you may spend some time picking and downloading the ISO file before you’re ready to begin.
Choose a Linux Operating System (“Distro”)
Before proceeding you will require to choose and download a Linux operating system to install on your chosen computer.
Various Linux operating systems (also known as “distros” which are short for “distribution”) are in broad use, from big names like Ubuntu and Mint to Fedora, Manjaro, Elementary, and Pop!_OS. Each of these balances usability with productivity, much as you would expect from a mainstream operating system.
While there is some difference between these OSs (despite all being Linux), you can expect equal levels of compatibility with your computer’s hardware.
A note on the target device: you can utilize a desktop or laptop computer to run Linux. Some Linux versions are especially suited to older hardware like low-spec laptops and netbooks. If this is something you have in mind, take the time to research your system model to find the best Linux operating system for it.
Overall, take this as a rule: select a Linux distro by first ensuring it works with the hardware you plan to install it on.
How to Download Linux to Your PC
With your Linux operating system settings, you’ll be ready to download it to your computer to prepare the files for installation.
In most circumstances, a Linux distro downloads in ISO format. This is a disk image format, which can be composed of a CD, DVD, or USB flash storage. You can hope ISO files to be around 2GB in size usually, although some more compact distros might be half this size.
As such, you’ll require to ensure you have the necessary storage space on your download PC to store the ISO before you prepare it for installation. Downloading is just a case of visiting the Linux distro’s homepage and downloading the option that most closely suits the computer you plan to install Linux on.
Prepare Linux for Installation
With a Windows 10 or macOS system, the operating system is preinstalled. However, you may have seen yourself in a situation where the OS must be reinstalled. In such cases, you would take the time to ready installation media, using an optical disc or USB disk.
An identical process is required for installing Linux.
Windows 10 and macOS both make it straightforward to mount an ISO file in the operating system, enabling you to browse the contents of the disk image. However, writing the ISO file to your planned installation media is a little trickier, and requires a dedicated tool.
How to Install Linux on a Laptop
Installing Linux basically requires you to prompt your system to boot from the installation media rather than the hard disk drive.
With your laptop system switched off, connect the installation media, and boot the laptop. If the media is detected, you’ll be able to start the installation process (or boot into Live mode, see below). This is a guided method, with steps for your region and location, connecting to wireless networking, and selecting a disk partition.
The actual steps involved will depend on the chosen Linux distro. Note that if wireless networking isn’t an option, it is worth connecting the computer to an Ethernet port to enable the downloading of updates during the installation process.
How to Install Linux on Your PC
Installing Linux on a desktop system is very similar to installing it on a laptop. There is arguably vaster hardware support for desktops, but overall, the process is identical.
Where it may vary is in the presence of an optical drive. As CD and DVD drives are increasingly infrequent on laptops, it makes sense to use a USB installation media; with an old desktop, you can probably use the optical drive for installation. While this might be slower, it can also be more efficient than scrabbling around looking for a USB thumb drive.
Again, the exact steps needed for installing Linux on your computer depending on the specific distro. You should be able to make the right choices with the guided procedure, however.
How to Get Linux on a Computer without Installing
At this stage, you should understand how to install Linux on a laptop or desktop computer. But what if you want to run Linux on your system without installing it? You have three options for running Linux without removing the current operating system:
- Run Linux in Live mode – Linux distros feature a bootable live CD environment (including USB media) which allows you to use the operating system without installing it
- Run Linux in a virtual machine – This is a simple way to try Linux. You can get to grips with it without installing it on a physical hard disk drive
- Setup Windows Subsystem for Linux – Windows 10 features an optional device for running Linux. This is simple to enable and lets you install a Linux distro direct from the Microsoft Store
Whichever option you choose, you’ll still be able to enjoy an extensive Linux experience. This flexibility is one of the key causes for Linux’s enduring success.
You’ve Installed Linux on Your Computer
As you can see, installing Linux isn’t quite as complicated as you might have thought. All it requires is a suitable target computer, the right Linux version, and suitable installation media.
The installation process usually includes instructions, helping you to ensure that your Linux computer is set up the way you want it. And if you don’t have a spare computer, installing Linux on your existing system with a virtual machine or Windows Subsystem for Linux is also an option. Running Linux as a Live CD is the same thing.